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Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America by [Vaver, Anthony]
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Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America Kindle Edition


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Length: 358 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product Description

In 1723, James Bell grabbed a book from a London bookstall and started to run, but he was chased by several witnesses and was discovered hiding in a dog kennel. As punishment for his crime, Bell was loaded on a ship and sent to colonial America, where he was sold at auction as an indentured servant for a seven-year term. 


Most people know that England shipped thousands of convicts to Australia, but few are aware that colonial America was the original destination for Britain's unwanted criminals. In the 18th century, thousands of British convicts like Bell were separated from their families, chained together in the hold of a ship, and carried off to America. What happened to these convicts once they arrived? Did they eventually prosper in an environment of unlimited opportunity, or were they ostracized by other colonists and doomed to live in poverty?



Anthony Vaver tells the stories of the petty thieves and professional criminals who were subjected to this unique punishment, and in bringing to life this forgotten chapter in American history, he challenges the way we think about immigration to early America.



The book includes an appendix with tips on researching individual convicts who were transported to America.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1252 KB
  • Print Length: 358 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Pickpocket Publishing (30 June 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0059UK5E2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #383,809 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 34 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a captivating book which relates fascinating history 23 December 2013
By B. R. Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Vaver captivatingly relates a relatively unknown facet of American history.

"Between 1700 and 1775, a total of 585,800 immigrants arrived in the 13 colonies from all over the world. About 52,200 of these immigrants were convicts and prisoners (9%). Slaves by far constituted the largest group (278,400; 47%), followed by people arriving with their freedom (151,600; 26%) and indentured servants (96,600; 18%). Note that almost three-quarters of all the people arriving in the American colonies during this time period did so without their freedom" (p. 7).

As Vaver explains "transportation," he enthralls the readers with tales of notorious criminals mixed with pathos for the more innocent caught in the flawed web of what passed for 18th Century British justice. Against a backdrop peopled with criminals like the notorious Jonathan Wild and Moll King, Vaver relates stories lesser known, such as the story of a twelve year old child, Elizabeth Howard, who, in 1728, stole a small quantity of ribbon and lace. Caught and imprisoned, Elizabeth stood trial and was convicted of felony theft: a hanging offense. While awaiting execution in Newgate prison, Elizabeth petitioned that her sentence be commuted to "transportation" to the American colonies. Her petitioned worked, and she was to be released on account of her young age. Unfortunately, Elizabeth died before she was released. (pp. 90-91 & 97-98).

When I bought this book, I expected to read about convicts being sent to Georgia. Vaver explains the origins of that misconception and then surprisingly reveals that most convicts sent to the colonies were landed and sold in Maryland and Virginia. It's a very good and informative book. And while it's in no manner Vaver's thesis, Vaver's book should serve as a cautionary tale to those who would rely on "privatization" (free enterprise} to mete out criminal punishment.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and entertaining historical crime read 31 August 2011
By Ball-Family - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book isn't just a wonderful read for history or genealogy buffs it's also a surprising treat for those who enjoy a good true crime story. I also highly recommend this for anyone who simply wants to read GOOD writing and learn about one of America and England's dark little secrets.

Anthony Vaver keeps this book moving at a quick, enjoyable and organized pace. There was never a moment that I felt annoyed with useless, dry, or boring content; I wanted to keep reading and find out what happened next. Each historical fact was effortlessly intertwined with the real life stories of death-pardoned convicts transported to England's dumping ground - the shores of America.

Finally, as a genealogist myself, I must give kudos to Mr. Vaver for doing such a find job with his Acknowledgements.

Thank you for a most excellent read Mr. Vaver.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book but Kindle edition incomplete 13 September 2015
By Gary92 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a really good book. It is well written and appears to be well documented. Anyone interested in the colonial history of the U.S. should read this book. The author is very knowledgeable of the history of crime in Britain in the 18th century and it should be of interest to those wanting to know more about that part of British history.

I am not entirely happy with the Kindle edition. The Kindle edition does not contain any of the documentation that is in the paperback edition. Almost fifty pages of end-notes are missing from the Kindle edition and that should have been noted in the description of the Kindle edition. I marked down the Kindle edition from five stars to four stars for that reason.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read! 26 September 2011
By Jeanne Vaver - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
It was interesting to discover this segment of American history that I had never heard of before. The author did a good job of making the narrative come alive by interspersing the factual information with the personal histories of individuals who actually were convicted in England and were sentenced to transportation to the colonies. Because each chapter is complete in itself, I think that this book could be a good "hook" for the reluctant high school history student. Some of these true stories are better than any fiction!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I have found on the Subject. 21 September 2012
By Key Largo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I recently found out that my great great great great grandfather was sent to America in 1771 for a crime of stealing ribbon, in London. He arrived on a convict ship later that year.. This book was an eyeopener as to what some of our ancestors went through in the early Colonial America. Those arriving on prison ships and being sold as slaves as their punishment. It is a very readable book. Informative and well written. I would recommend to anyone that is interested in white slavery in early America.